Funny How All The Senators Supporting Anti-FCC Bill, Have Raised Lots Of Money From AT&T

from the just-saying dept

We mentioned, when the recent FCC report on broadband came out, that it seemed notable that the first politician out of the gate complaining about it, Rep. Cliff Stearns just happened to have had massive financial support from the biggest broadband players around when it came to raising money for his political campaigns. Given that, it seemed worth looking into the sponsors of a new bill designed to prevent the FCC from implementing net neutrality rules. Now I'm still not convinced the FCC really has the authority to do what it's trying to do, but I find it even more troubling when a group of Senators get together and call a new bill the "Freedom for Consumer Choice Act (FCC Act)," and it seems like they're all funded by AT&T. Somehow, I don't think that AT&T is supporting "freedom for consumer choice" when it comes to broadband. Over the years, they've done exactly the opposite, and worked hard to limit competition.

So, let's see. The bill's main sponsor is Senator Jim DeMint. Over the course of his career... AT&T is the second largest contributor to his campaigns. Ditto for Senator Tom Coburn. John Cornryn no doubt knows that AT&T is the 4th biggest contributor to his campaigns over the years, and Orrin Hatch must be happy that AT&T is the fifth largest contributor to his campaigns over the years (amusingly, AT&T is the only non-healthcare company in the top 8 on Hatch's list).

There are three other co-sponsors who don't have AT&T among their top contributors, but apparently they all want to start. If you drill down and look at campaign contributions this year all three -- John Ensign, Jeff Sessions and John Thune see AT&T appearing on their list of top contributors after being absent in previous years.

Funny how that works.

Now, of course, you could argue that AT&T contributes to politicians who have the same views as AT&T, rather than that these politicians are responding to AT&T's bidding. But, either way, it's hard to argue with a straight face that this particular bill has anything to do with protecting consumers, when it's pretty clearly designed to protect AT&T.

I've seen people suggest in the past that elected officials should have to wear "sponsorship patches," like Nascar racers, to show who funded their campaigns. While I think the idea was a joke, I have to admit, it's growing on me. Also, a special thanks to Karl Bode for inspiring me to write this post, in noting that none of the press coverage of the newly introduced bill seems to note the AT&T contributions to these Senators...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Nick Dynice (profile), Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 8:09am

    I like the "sponsorship patches" idea too. Someone can do a mashup with the data from Open Secrets pretty easily since is is all available as xml and json, and place logos on photos of these politicians or on their websites.

     

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      Hephaestus (profile), Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 8:26am

      Re:

      Thanks I didnt know http://www.opensecrets.org had a webservice for that.

       

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 8:31am

      Re:

      Why stop at patches? Why not force the politicians to issue 30 second spots before they take any podium?

      "I'm going to be talking to you today about a very important healthcare reform measure today," said Senator Asscheez today, speaking before Congress. "But first, my fellow Senators, are you experiencing problems in the bedroom? Suspect you might have erectile disfunction but are afraid to talk to your doctor about it? Now you can call the friendly folks at Phallus-cudical Corp. for some free information on their new pill, called Boneranza, now by perscription only. Never again will you have to worry about being prepared when the time is right with your wife, mistress, or even just an intern that you'll have to bury in a park later."

      Deep breath.

      "Speaking of which, did you know you can go to Lowe's for all your shovel, lime, and soil needs? At Lowe's you'll find all of the hardware and natural materials you'll ever need to make someone disappear. Lowe's: we're burying someone together."

      Sheepish look.

      "Anyway, about this healthcare thing...."

       

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        identicon
        Danny, Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 8:53am

        Re: Re:

        If they did a 30 sec spot for all their sponsors they would litterally use up their floor time giving ads....lol

         

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        Pickle Monger (profile), Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 9:38am

        Re: Re:

        Ladies and gentlemen, members of Congress, presented for you consideration is "Freedom for Consumer Choice Act (FCC Act)" brought to you by AT&T - Rethink Possible. ;-)

         

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    identicon
    bribed, Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 8:09am

    bribed

    and more bribed

     

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    slacker525600 (profile), Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 8:29am

    I fully support the patches idea

    I think that people often forget that lobbyists are trying to protect their interests which often align with the interests of their employees, but I think the whole thing has gotten out of hand. having an easy to recognize system that doesnt require digging through spreadsheets for each politician would be nice. I mean, if we had more than two political parties I imagine they would end up clustering around various lobbying interests, but thats not going to happen the way our system is set up.

    sorry got rambly there. I dont know what a perfect system would look like(it probably wouldnt involve patches), all I know is our current system is a bastardization of what it was intended to be.

     

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    Jay (profile), Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 8:29am

    Shoulda known...

    Well, my senator's in there. Guess I'll start sending letters to him, telling how I feel about it. If you all don't hear back from me because I went mysteriously missing...

     

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    rl78 (profile), Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 8:32am

    "Sponsorship Patches"

    That is fantastic! What a concept. How about Congressional jerseys like soccer. What's sad is other than people finding integrity, there is no simple way to stop it.

     

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      Nastybutler77 (profile), Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 2:48pm

      Re: "Sponsorship Patches"

      How about Congressional jerseys like soccer.

      That's funny but I think more realistically we should at the very least require members of Congress to wear colored ties representing their political party. Red for the Repubs, blue for the Dems, and purple for Joe Lieberman and the other independents with the hue of purple reflecting where their voting alligences mostly fall. If another party ever gets a member elected (not too bloody likely) we'll get some more variety, but this way we wouldn't need C-SPAN to put the little (D) or (R) next to their names on the graphic.

      The Pirate Party would have the most bad ass ties possible, of course.

       

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    identicon
    Bradley Stewart, Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 8:41am

    I know A Lot About All This Stuff

    and there is really plenty I could gripe about. Its just right now I don't have the energy to do it. So all I am going to say is that AT&T has the best customer service department of any provider that I have ever dealt with and I have dealt with plenty of them.

     

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    lux (profile), Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 8:41am

    Is this really a surprise to anyone?

     

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    identicon
    Ryan, Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 8:54am

    Sounds Pretty Worthless Actually

    Why do we need sponsorship patches? Anybody who knows anything can tell you that virtually every effort involving more government control is tied in some way to fulfilling the wishes of special interests. So virtually every Congressman would be walking around with a suit filled with patches (that is, assuming the system wouldn't get gamed as they "inadvertently" neglect to wear an important one, which is a virtual certainty)...so where are we then?

    Back to exactly where we are now, which is a government that shamelessly pursues its own interests and a populace that continues to elect politicians that support more taxation, more regulation, and more subsidization - either because they're too stupid to realize that government bureaucrats are just as greedy, fallible, and self-serving as anybody in the general public (and undoubtedly more so in general), and/or because they know so yet support their efforts anyway because their party supports the intended outcome.

    It's a stupid idea that, like so many others, is more about illusory appearances than something that would actually improve society.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 11:53am

      Re: Sounds Pretty Worthless Actually

      Yes, yes, we all get it, gummint bad, let's get ridda all that gummint, rah rah losertarianism.

      Grow up.

       

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        Nastybutler77 (profile), Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 2:50pm

        Re: Re: Sounds Pretty Worthless Actually

        "Grow up."

        That's funny coming from some AC taking pot shots. Pot meet kettle.

         

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2010 @ 3:11am

          Re: Re: Re: Sounds Pretty Worthless Actually

          Aaaawwww, would you like a tissue?

          Losertarian government-hate is the domain of immature teenagers. You have no recourse but to attack me since you realize I'm right.

          You fail.

           

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            Nastybutler77 (profile), Jul 28th, 2010 @ 11:11am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Sounds Pretty Worthless Actually

            Aaaawwww, would you like a tissue?

            Losertarian government-hate is the domain of immature teenagers. You have no recourse but to attack me since you realize I'm right.


            Again, everything you just said applies to you. I'm not taking any position here one way or the other. I'm merely pointing out that you are using personal attacks and acting immaturely in all your posts, while accusing everyone else of being immature. Thank you for proving my point yet again.

            So it is you who has failed.

             

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      vivaelamor (profile), Jul 24th, 2010 @ 3:52am

      Re: Sounds Pretty Worthless Actually

      "So virtually every Congressman would be walking around with a suit filled with patches"

      With that image in mind, I'm sold.

       

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    identicon
    Danny, Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 8:56am

    Bribe vs. Lobby

    What's the difference?

    I like the patches idea. Frankly I don't give a damn who pays for gas in (insert race car driver's name)'s car. I think we're still a ways off before NASCAR takes over the world. On the other hand politicians have a lot of power so I'd really like to know who's sponsoring their bids for said power (because it may offer insight into what said politician is going to do with that power if they get it).

    And while we're talking about disclosure can we finally make cigarrette/tobacco product makers put a full list of ingredients on their labels?

     

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    Matt Polmanteer (profile), Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 9:07am

    Keep Happening

    Until we get some public campaign financing laws this is going to keep happening for every thing our gov't does.

     

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      Free Capitalist (profile), Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 9:22am

      Re: Keep Happening

      Until we get some public campaign financing laws this is going to keep happening for every thing our gov't does.

      I have no faith in regulations written and approved by those who are to be regulated.

      I feel Nick Dynice's mashup idea (first comment on this article) is absolutely on the right track. People should get used to the idea that the best, most effective civil action happens in absence of government involvement.

      In other words:
      "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
      Wendell Phillips"

       

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    Jay (profile), Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 9:35am

    I can't seem to find the FCC Act anywhere. Anyone find the bill so I can read it?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 9:55am

    Help

    I'm thinking about buying a senator, but don't want to over pay. What are senators going for now a days?

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 9:55am

    Politicians are like commodities. If you have enough money you can buy them.

     

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    Ben, Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 9:57am

    Yeah, whadda suprise!

    It's called a bribe, back in Chicago the city inspectors would (jokingly) walk in backwards with their hand behind them with the palm up and say "grease me".

     

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    Pickle Monger (profile), Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 9:57am

    Senator who?

    The bill's main sponsor is Senator Jim DeMint.


    All vote for Alvin Greene!!!

     

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    ChronoFish (profile), Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 10:27am

    That's what happens when AT&T is the top contributor to congress... period

    http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/index.php

    They pretty much give to every congress person who will take their money. Some more than others - but it appears the money is there for the taking...


    So it's really NOT surprising that those who support the bill have AT&T as one of their top contributors, nor would it be all the surprising if a congressman was getting a ton of cash from AT&T and still opposed the legislation.

    There is no story here because - well - there is no story here. We've known for decades that cash is king. Contributors have gotten smart. They don't support candidates who are good for them. They support candidates who are likely to win. If there is no clear winner - guess what - support them both evenly.

    The only real stories regarding campaign contributions are the stories about money getting rejected or returned. And you know what - not only does it rarely happen - it's really not all that interesting (yawn) and so news outlets don't make a big deal out of it.


    Congress supports big business. Big business supports congress. Americans think they care - but don't - and end up voting for congressmen supported by big business anyway.

    Nothing new here or there.
    -CF

     

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    TAMbot, Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 1:39pm

    i'm a bit confused as to what everyone is upset about. Everyone is entitled to representation. Corporations are people as well and they deserve the right to protect themselves through the use of their congressmen as well. Just because someone makes a lot of money from a certain company doesn't mean that they are "on the take" it just means that the company really supports the stances taken by that congressman. Individuals give contributions all the time and there are more of them, I just don't get where the anger is from.
    All this aside the government only really belongs in the business of promoting business interests not stifling them. Everyone already knows that tax breaks and subsidies create the best environment for hiring. That's why we're in this recession. They stopped the tax breaks.

     

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      Nastybutler77 (profile), Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 2:55pm

      Re:

      i'm a bit confused as to what everyone is upset about. Everyone is entitled to representation. Corporations are people as well and they deserve the right to protect themselves through the use of their congressmen as well. Just because someone makes a lot of money from a certain company doesn't mean that they are "on the take" it just means that the company really supports the stances taken by that congressman.

      How's the weather in your dream world? I hope it doesn't rain and melt your gum drop house.

       

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    Nick Dynice (profile), Jul 23rd, 2010 @ 9:48pm

    lol, TAMbot.

    So let's get this thing built. I am thinking something like Stumbleupon where you can view a representative's website at random and it is inside of an iframe that will overlay corporate logos and dollar amounts. Maybe they display as animated bar graphs that grow with stacks of dollars. Here is a quick mockup http://nsputnik.com/demint.jpg

     

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    identicon
    A name like yours, Jul 25th, 2010 @ 6:50pm

    Of course

    There is a way to stop all this people... It's very simple too...
    STOP VOTING FOR THESE LOSERS! DUUUUHHHHH!
    Would it kill some of you to research who's on the poll before going? Then, when you get to the booth, select write-in. Presto! No more career politicians screwing around with taxpayers money to make corporations more powerful. We're a plutarchy, plain AND simple.

     

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